Where there is water, there is life.

I had planned to move to Florida a few years ago, but instead I get to see Texas become Florida this year, at least in comparable rainfall. It’s a little more difficult now, to remember that bad drought just a few short years ago. No worries, we’ll be baked by the sun again in the not too distant future. I’m sure we’ll hear endless complaints, prayers and rain-dances at that point, wishing we had some H20. It would certainly behoove a Texas landowner (and improve the bottom line) to consider learning about watershed management practices to maintain balance in your … Read more

Eat The Weeds

Bee on flower

I’m writing this to you at the stroke of midnight on April Fool’s 2015. Don’t be a fool and take out your beneficial forbs and so-called “weeds” thinking a monoculture pasture is ideal. Many such plants are desirable as vermifuges, micronutrient resources, palatable food sources, window species and/or pollinator resources. Here’s a quick list of goodies in the spring lush: Plantain Wild onion Medic/vetch/clover Sedge Artemesia Asparagus Chickweed Cleavers Dandelion Chicory Greenbriar There are plenty more where those came from. I’m available for site visits and consultations if you’re interested in working with nature and maximizing productivity. May all your … Read more

Ecosystems: Jan 2015

Spend less to get more.  The more you know, the less you need.  Employing the principles of ecology allows us to construct permanently productive and resilient ecosystems that beget increasing abundance over time without applying heavy inputs of expensive and deleterious agri-business products.  Capital and energy intensive does not equal success!

Organic Matters

‘No field was ever plowed by turning it over in your mind’…and yet that is what I would recommend as a land management  goal. You see, tillage is a destructive practice that oxidizes away your organic matter. Why care? Without it you have a lifeless mineral matrix whose sole purpose is to prop up crops with an endless need for capital and labor intensive inputs of water, fertilizer and biocides. For my money, I’m going to do all I can to amplify the positive effects of a living soil food web. That means mimicking a natural ecosystem which includes cycling … Read more

Rainfall Amounts; June 2014

I’d like to congratulate all of you who received plentiful rainfall this year.  We’ve missed out on most of it here in the northern kingdom but still have our fingers crossed. I’m hearing reports of verdant pastures and wildflowers from places that have been parched for too long. Now, look at those lovely green acres and imagine that you could keep that going even in drought cycles.  How?  Strategic water conveyance!  Yes, water harvesting swales, structures, techniques and technology takes the rain falling on your ranch and puts it to work for you instead of letting it run away to … Read more

DROUGHT May 2014

DROUGHT “Charge it to the dust and let the rain settle it.”  There’s always a drought lurking around the corner, it seems.  How you prepare for and manage it will go far in the price you pay at the end.  Personally, I believe in thinking and planning over spray, pray and pay agriculture. Here in Texas, ranch life is ruled by the weather. I grew up dryland farming and ranching through some pretty humbling droughts that caused us to get innovative in our drought survival strategies.  Most of our place was a sand dune to start with and we’d watch … Read more

Botanical Solutions for Internal Parasites

While internal parasites are a fact of life in ranching, there are alternative holistic solutions available to assist in their suppression. A high priority should be rotational paddock shift grazing and the encouragement of dung beetle populations. A healthy mixed sward pasture including medicinal forbs is also very important. Access to tannin rich browseable trees such as oak, mesquite, hickory, locust, elm, etc have a strong negative effect on the worms. Specific plants proven to possess vermicidal/anthelmintic properties are Wormwood (Artemesia), Wormseed or Epazote, Garlic, Senna, Pumpkin seed, Prickly Ash, Monarda, Black Walnut, Tobacco, Neem and Pomegranate root, among others. … Read more

Useful Medicinal Plants part 2:

Oak – There are hundreds of species of oaks all around the northern hemisphere in all types of habitat. Oaks are used for their durable wood, desirable ornamental qualities and edible acorns (for wildlife, at least). Indigenous peoples relied heavily on acorns as a staple food source when properly processed. The bitter properties in acorns are tannins which are useful medicinally as an astringent to staunch bleeding, as an antiseptic wash and to strengthen bleeding gums. The most concentrated tannins are found in oak bark, acorn caps and galls (round growths formed around the larvae of tiny wasps).   Elm … Read more

Useful Medicinal Plants of Texas and the southern plains – part 1

Most of the time people seem to believe powerful plant medicine comes from deep in the Amazon rainforest or some high hidden mountain in Peru, so it often comes as a surprise that functional phytochemistry is to be found in all kinds of plants wherever you are. Perhaps you may have wondered about the hidden mysteries held within your local plants. In this article I decided to start with four kinds of plants [Black Walnut – Mesquite – Juniper – Prickly Pear] that can be found almost anywhere in the state of Texas, the southern plains, across most of the … Read more

Native Texas Prairie

Native Texas prairie is the gift that keeps on giving. Bison and grassland are like a hand in a glove. Native grass species require little water, less fertilizer and last forever if managed properly. Unfortunately, relatively little prairie remains today after decades of plowing, overgrazing and urban sprawl. The dominant species in tallgrass prairie are Eastern Gamagrass, Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, Indiangrass and Muhly grasses. Mid to shortgrass species include Sideoats Grama, Texas Bluegrass, Buffalo Grass and Blue Grama. Efforts to restore native prairie can bring lasting benefits to bison and the bottom line. Ben Tyler, www.TexasEcologix.com